Hepatitis C – Frequently Asked Questions

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It causes serious harm to the liver and has long-lasting health consequences.

What causes hepatitis C infection?

Hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C infection. This virus is present in the blood of affected persons. This virus attacks your liver first and thereafter causes serious harm to all body functions.

What are the first symptoms of HCV infection?

There are very few first symptoms of HCV infection. Some people could have HCV in their blood for many years without exhibiting any major symptoms. Fatigue, lack of appetite, and overall weakness are among the first symptoms. In some cases, symptoms might not come to the fore but HCV could be harming your liver extensively.

How can people get infected with HCV?

Hepatitis C infection is possible through:

– Sharing of needles for intravenous drugs or through use of intranasal drugs – Contracting of infected blood through sharing of sharp instruments like scissors and razors – Through blood transfusion as needed during organ transplantation or other major operations – Through accidental transfer of infected blood on equipment used during dialysis – Having frequent occupational contact with infected blood or people with HCV as in the case of health workers

What are the main symptoms of hepatitis C?

The most common symptom of hepatitis C is extreme and constant tiredness. However, this symptom is common among many ailments. Further signs of hepatitis C include stomach pain, nausea, yellowing of eyes and skin as in jaundice. Later, blood tests can confirm hepatitis C through abnormalities in blood tests.

What medical complications can Hepatitis C cause?

Hepatitis C does not cause the same complications for all patients. It hardly affects some people while it causes serious complications for others. Some cases could require specialized medical treatment while some cases heal to some degree by themselves without any serious medical treatment.

Medical complications that could arise due to hepatitis C infection are liver diseases, liver cirrhosis and liver failure. These complications do not develop immediately; they may take many years, even decades to surface after HCV infection.

Who can get hepatitis C infection?

Hepatitis C infection does not have any age or gender bar. Normally, the incidence is higher in males between thirty and forty-nine years old.

Is there any vaccination for Hepatitis C?

No, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C infection.

What are the treatment options for hepatitis C?

There is no single and universal treatment option for hepatitis C, that can be proven to be beneficial for all. Antiviral drugs used in specific combination could bring effective results.

However, doctors consider many factors like existing medical conditions, age, gender, extent of infection, and allergy to drugs before prescribing suitable medication.

What are preventive measures for hepatitis C infection?

Simple preventive techniques for hepatitis C infection include:

– Abstinence from alcohol consumption – Refraining from sharing of needles for drugs – Do not use same needles on different people for tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture – Be careful to avoid any contact with infected blood through sharing of personal care equipment like razors, scissors etc. – Practice safe sex through use of different contraceptive techniques – Eat nutritious food

Can an HCV-infected mother pass on virus at childbirth?

Yes, it is possible for an HCV-infected mother to pass HCV at childbirth, although the cases are very few. It may be more likely if the mother is also HIV-positive. Even if the mother passes on HCV at childbirth, it is not necessarily certain that the baby will develop the infection. The virus might go away from baby’s blood after twelve to fifteen months. Therefore, HCV-infected mother can have babies without HCV infection.

Can hepatitis C spread through sexual contact?

Yes, hepatitis C can spread through sexual contact but it is rare. Having multiple heterosexual partners is an HCV risk. Further, if you are exposed to open wounds or other cuts during sexual relations with an infected partner, it is possible to develop HCV infection.

Can an HCV-infected person donate blood?

No, an HCV-infected person should not donate blood. Doctors conduct blood tests before collecting blood from donors. Most often, a person gets to know of the HCV infection through such routine blood test.

Different levels of enzymes and red blood cells in blood indicate infection which, on further detailed culture, could yield the exact cause and type of blood infection.